By Brooke Holt
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. ‘The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.’” Joel 2:23-25
The scenario that Joel is painting here is one out of the movies of our day. Locusts came in swarms upon the nation of Israel and devastated every aspect of their land. It was the picture of ravage that Hollywood loves to produce. Joel prophesies to the nation of Israel post-locusts. And his cry to them is to return to the Lord, to repent of the idolatry and falling away, and then to experience God’s goodness, grace, and restoration.
His words speak of God’s grace and provision. The Lord brought judgement upon the land due to their apostasy, but the Lord longed to restore them to abundant blessings – abundant rain, gram, wine, and oil. Their current reality was a ravaged land, but God was ready to receive them back and to provide everything they needed. The book of Joel is the picture of God’s judgment and God’s grace.
Prior to the onslaught of the locusts, the Israelites had been warned of the coming judgement but with the warning came the call to repentance: “’Yet even now’, declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments’” (Joel 2:12). The Lord does not delight in bringing judgment on his people. His heart is for relationship, and he clearly articulated the way to that relationship.
Despite the warnings, the Israelites did not repent and return, and they experienced the consequences of their sin. Once again, the Lord speaks his words of love, grace, and invitation to return to relationship and then to experience all the benefits of that restored relationship. The story of the nation of Israel is tragic. They were so engrossed with the surrounding nations, the foreign gods, the foreign women, and the ways of the world that they forgot the Lord.
Thankfully, the Lord never gives up on his people. He stands ready to forgive, redeem, and restore. That is the story written on the cross. Jesus paid the penalty of your sin so that you may come home. Just think of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Father awaits your return with open arms; he is ready to put his robe upon you to cover your shame; to put the finest ring on your finger marking you as his own; and to throw a party in honor of your return.
Will you come to him today in humility ready to release all the ways of the world to fully embrace the blessings he has for you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New - The Bible promises that those who are in Christ are "new creatures." But how does that transformation take place? This unique Easter-season small group Bible study provides a space in which we can discover what it truly means to live a new life. As we listen, we'll learn how the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything - for us. Begin the journey to new life today!
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